Ellie Black leads balanced Canadian team into world gymnastics championships

The world artistic gymnastics championships are the last major international meet before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and Canada's women's team hopes to vault from fourth place onto the podium. But Simone Biles, competing one month after her brother was charged with triple murder, and her U.S team remain the gold standard.

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Fresh off a five-medal performance at the Pan Am Games, Canada's Ellie Black is hoping that success translates to the podium appearances at the artistic gymnastics world championships. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

As the world artistic gymnastics championships begin, Canada's gymnasts will learn the difference one year can make.

In 2018, the Canadian women landed fourth in the team event at worlds, less than one point behind third-place China. The top three countries earned automatic Olympic qualification.

Returning four of five gymnasts from that event, Canada hopes to vault onto the podium — one year ahead of Tokyo 2020.

The 2019 world artistic gymnastic championships run through Sunday in Stuttgart, Germany. You can watch all the action live on as well as CBC TV.

The Canadian women's artistic gymnastics qualified a full four-person squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after finishing fifth in the qualifying round in the team event Saturday. Canada's men, conversely, could have a tougher time making the cut.

Podium finishers in all of the men's and women's apparatus finals, plus the the top 12 men and top 20 women in individual all-around event, will also snag Olympic berths.

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Meet Canada's women's gymnasts

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Ellie Black, 24, leads the Canadian attack. Halifax's Black, the reigning national all-around champion, became the first Canadian to ever win a world all-around medal when she took silver at 2017 worlds.

At the Pan Am Games in August, Black took top spot in the all-around event, with one major caveat: American legend Simone Biles did not compete.

Biles already owns the record with 14 gold medals at worlds, but the 22-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, can break the record for most medals. Earning four more in Germany would launch Biles past the retired Vitaly Scherbo for the most ever with 24. More than that, she can write herself into the sport's Code of Points forever.

Biles showed off her triple-twisting double-flip — the triple-double for short — when winning the U.S. title in August. If she lands it at worlds, it will go in the Code as "the Biles." The same goes for her double-double beam dismount.

However, Biles enters these world championships under slightly different circumstances. In August, her brother, Tevin Biles-Thomas, was charged with murder in connection to the fatal shooting of three people at a New Year's Eve Party in Cleveland, Ohio.

Biles wrote on Twitter she "aches" for everyone involved, especially the victims and their families.

Joining Black in facing Biles and the dominant U.S. group for the team event are Brooklyn Moors (Cambridge, Ont.), Ana Padurariu (Whitby, Ont.), Shallon Olsen (Surrey, B.C.) and Victoria Woo (Brossard, Que.).

Padurariu, 17, earned silver in balance beam during 2018 worlds while Olsen, 19, won silver in vault.

The Canadian men, meanwhile, enter worlds after grabbing bronze in the team event at Pan Ams.

The gymnasts include: René Cournoyer (Repentigny, Que.), William Émard (Laval, Que.), Cory Paterson (Montreal, Que.), Jackson Payne (Calgary), Sam Zakutney (Ottawa) and Justin Karstadt (Toronto).

With files from The Associated Press